From Matt Reeves – the writer/director of Cloverfield – comes the new vampire classic that critics are calling “chillingly real” (Scott Bowles, USA Today) and “one of the best horror films of the year” (Cinematical). In bleak New Mexico, a lonely, bullied boy, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee of The Road), forms a unique bond with his mysterious new neighbor, Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz of Kick-Ass). Trapped in the mind and body of a child, however, Abby is forced to hide a horrific secret of bloodthirsty survival. But in a world of both tenderness and terror, how can you invite in the one friend who may unleash the ultimate nightmare?
Based on the Swedish novel, Let the Right One In, “Let Me In is a dark and violent love story, a beautiful piece of cinema and a respectful rendering of my novel for which I am grateful.” (John Ajvide Lindqvist, author).
If, as a young teen, you ever thought to yourself, 'Life sucks,' Matt Reeves of 'Cloverfield' fame aims to explore those sentiments with the melancholic existence of Owen and Abby. In this dark and somber fairy-tale of two star-crossed lovers, 'Let Me In' proves itself more than a simple rewrite of the Swedish vampire film from a few years ago. This Americanized translation, which is also based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, displays those tough formative years of confusion and loneliness as universal hardships of adolescence. With stylish and highly impressive photography by Greig Fraser ('Bright Star'), Reeves creates a tragic atmosphere of two morose souls as destined to meet, a genre-bending flick about the most unusual love story ever told.
As far as remakes go, 'Let Me In' is one of the finest examples of how it should be done and ranks as one of the best films of 2010. And for someone who's difficult to please when it comes to retreads, the film is also one of the better surprises of the year. Rather than being a straightforward imitation of Tomas Alfredson's horror feature, Reeves transforms the original plot into his own interpretation. Simply put, it's an alternate version of the same novel, and neither is really better than the other as far as I'm concerned. Set in 1983 Los Alamos, New Mexico, the idea of fearing outside threats — be it physical violence or the anxiety of an uncertain future — remains the focus of this tale, and Reeves terrifically illustrates the notion with Ronald Reagan's speech at the beginning, before introducing viewers to the scrawny, little boy who personifies those fears.
Kodi Smit-McPhee ('The Road') is Owen, a twelve-year-old child forced to endure the horrible abuses of school bully Kenny (Dylan Minnette). At home — a place meant for family, protection and warmth — things are not much of an improvement, with an absent father and a neglectful mother who drinks herself to sleep every night. It's here that the director and cinematographer are at their most creative. Although her voice is heard throughout the film, the mother (Cara Buono) is never clearly seen, always tastefully obscured by the camera, just beyond reach. The only semblance of a remotely normal childhood for Owen comes when playing outside in the bitter cold, near a frozen, dismal jungle gym. When finally confronted by a real evil, its presence is ironically his salvation.
Abby is the pitiable kid next door, who upon first meeting Owen tells him outright they cannot be friends. As the pint-sized masked vigilante of 'Kick-Ass,' Chloë Grace Moretz dazzled with a martial arts display that upstaged the rest of the cast. In 'Let Me In,' she tones it down for another surprisingly mature performance as the woeful vampire child. She seems almost worst off than Owen because she's frozen eternally in that awkward phase of development. And it's in this aspect of the narrative that the film finds most of its strength. The story adheres to more traditional, folklore stereotypes of vampires, as rabid, animalistic harbingers of death. But there is nothing intoxicating or romantic about living like a creature of the night. Abby clearly hates her life, kept company by an older man (Richard Jenkins) who appears to be growing distant.
It's quite rare to see a remake that comes close to being as good as its predecessor. But Matt Reeves has succeeded in doing just that, delivering a moving and cerebral coming-of-age drama involving a vampire. The horror comes not only from Abby's vicious attacks to alleviate her thirst, but also from the perspective of Elias Koteas as the police detective, whose job involves the draining and exhaustive hunt for real-life monsters. 'Let Me In' is a stylish and engaging film, ultimately about the atrocities of a cold and uncertain world, where the evils of one schoolboy are just as horrifying to watch as those of a killer with a trash bag over his head. For genre fans everywhere, this also marks the legendary Hammer Film Productions' much-awaited return to motion picture production. The film hints at a new meaning for "Hammer Horror."
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Anchor Bay Entertainment brings 'Let Me In' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo set. The blue eco-case houses the Region A, BD50 and the Digital Copy discs on opposing panels. The package also comes with a really neat transparent slipcover that looks as if frosted, but shows a hand moving downwards to reveal Abby's vampire eyes. The cover art features Abby's face with a simple black background. The package also contains a 24-page colored comic entitled "Let Me In: Crossroads" from Dark Horse Comics, which works as a prelude to the events at the beginning of the film.
When popping the disc into the player, viewers are greeted with theatrical previews for 'Stone' and 'Jack Goes Boating.' Afterwards, full motion-clips taken from the film fill the screen while music plays in the background with the standard menu selection running across the bottom.
'Let Me In' debuts with a highly-detailed and stylish 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1) that appears faithful to the theatrical presentation.
The freshly-minted transfer, taken from a combination of fine-grain stocks, shows a great deal of distinct and sharp definition in clothing and other fine objects. The knitted-threading in Owen's Izod sweaters and wool beanies are rendered with striking lifelike texture, while the dirt and grime on Abby's feet and clothes are plainly visible. The faces of actors also look natural to the climate, with nicely refined and revealing complexions in close-up.
Greig Fraser's photography comes with an impressive and over-saturated palette that alternates between cold, steely blues in daylight scenes, and deep, warm oranges at night. It provides the image with a melancholy and unsettling atmosphere, displaying plenty of rich, brilliant primaries throughout, especially reds. Contrast is pitch-perfect and flawlessly well-balanced, with bright, crisp whites. Visibility and clarity of background info is excellent, giving the picture perceptible depth and dimensionality.
Brightness levels are not always spot-on, wavering noticeably enough to bring the overall quality down a bit. A couple minor scenes look murkier than others, and this muddles some of the finer details in the darker portions. Then again, this could be partly intentional for creating deep and horribly oppressive shadows that obscure what's hidden within. At its best, the video boasts luxuriant and penetrating blacks that give the presentation a lovely cinematic quality.
In the end, 'Let Me In' hits Blu-ray with a stylish, outstanding transfer that vampire fans everywhere will devour.
For the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, the filmmakers go for a very quiet and subtle approach that's surprisingly moving and effective at establishing an overbearing mood.
The design uses silence as a chilling presence in the lives of Owen and Abby, so that when we hear the wild, sudden bursts of action, they have a shocking and startling impact. The surrounds are calm and motionless for most of the film, but when employed, they fill the room with the activity of hospitals, emergency sirens, school children, or the noise of a local arcade. Imaging is equally impressive as the muffled voices from the other side of the wall or the pop tunes in the distance are convincingly heard off-screen as if nearby.
The majority of the lossless mix is displayed across the front soundstage, which feels expansive, with perfectly balanced channel separation. Pans and movement are smooth and fluid to give the film an appreciable sense of space. Dynamic range is clean and sharp, even when levels suddenly escalate during loud action sequences, exhibiting rich clarity detail throughout. Low-frequency effects are dramatically forceful and sharply responsive, adding palpable weight to these exciting moments of horror. Through all this, dialogue reproduction remains well-prioritized and precise, making out each emotional inflection in the voices of characters.
'Let Me In' takes a bite out of Blu-ray audio with an intentional high-rez design that's as moodily striking as it is arresting.
Anchor Bay releases this Blu-ray edition of 'Let Me In' day-and-date with its DVD counterpart and includes the same assortment of special features. This also includes the short comic book from Dark Horse, made exclusive for the home video market.
Matt Reeves delivers much more than a simple remake of the popular Swedish novel and film 'Let the Right One In.' 'Let Me In' is an alternate take on the plot about two melancholic children dealing with a cruel and cold world. It's a wonderfully captivating picture which elegantly blends horror tropes within a harrowing, dramatic tale of finding love in the most unusual place. This Blu-ray edition of the film features excellent picture and a marvelous audio presentation that fans will love. Anchor Bay also offers a healthy collection of supplements, along with a short comic, earning this package a strong recommendation.